Dogs is set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic setting where it is always winter. Genetic manipulation exists in various forms, from creating attractive child prostitutes to making bizarre weapons. The organisation running the underground world seems to be the cause of a lot of violence and corruption... Including certain events in the main characters' pasts. The trouble is, those characters don't have the whole story. Either they're trying to find who exactly is behind something, or who killed X person, or just what got Y involved in it all. Familial angst is prevalent, as are people who are a lot more involved than they first seem. But whatever their reasons or pasts, they're in it together.It started off with one volume, titled Dogs: Stray Dogs Howling in the Dark, which introduced the four main characters and gave a little backstory for some of them. Dogs: Hardcore Twins introduced Luki and Noki, two young girls who treat killing as a game. More recently, Dogs: Bullets & Carnage started the main plot aspect, revealing more about the characters, introducing new ones, and dishing it all out with heaps of action.There's also an OVA, also titled Dogs: Stray Dogs Howling in the Dark, which is based on the original manga.
Badass Boast: Frühling boasts that no one who's ever seen her has lived to tell the tale, which is pretty much true. But it's only on a technicality. Ernst Rammsteiner - that is, Bishop, theblindpriest - fights her and lives.
Cheerful Child: Luki and Noki, subverted in that they go about hunting people down, fighting, and killing while treating it all like a fun game.
Chekhov's Gunman: Badou shows up very briefly (and gets a line) in Mihai's intro chapter. Luki and Noki show up a few pages later (though they look Off Model compared to later). Heine is first mentioned briefly in Badou's intro chapter.
Children Are Innocent: Despite the fact that they enjoy fighting and killing, Luki and Noki have always been portrayed as oddly innocent, and they don't even seem to know that killing is wrong. At heart, they're just children who would be completely normal if not for the weapons and the brainwashing that makes them think nothing of killing. When the twins are Brainwashed and Crazy, both Naoto and Badou feel horrible for having to hurt them, and Badou is even enraged that somebody could do that to a child.
Designer Babies: Heine, Lily, Giovanni and most others with a Kerberos spine.
Death Is Cheap: Somewhat. At least applies if said dead person was important to one of the main characters. Lily, Heine's "younger sister," is dead, but Angelika Einstürzen later shows up in chapter 69 and confronts Heine while using a body that is a Lily-look alike. Then as of chapter 75, Fuyumine, the man that saved Naoto, has been revealed to be alive and the man that Magato killed wasn't really him. And, of course, there's Badou and implications that his brother may not actually be dead at all.
Demoted to Extra: Despite Heine's spine being a very important plot point, the manifestation of the spine, "the Dog", doesn't seem to be very important at all. He's only appeared in illustration a handful of times during the comic's 7+ years ongoing run, and it's usually just to mock Heine or provoke him into letting him (Spine) take control.
Fan Disservice: Pretty girl straddling handsome boy, for whatever reason? Hot. Pretty girl straddling handsome boy, possibly about to kill him? Hot, depending on boy's reaction.Pretty girl straddling handsome boy while stabbing him at his MOTHER's command who is a) forcing her to do so through possession and b) currently inhabiting multiple bodies, including one that looks like Heine's dead little sister? Nasty, verging on Surreal Horror.
Hive Mind: Angelika Einstürzen has cloned herself many times and used each of her consciousnesses to speed up her research. They may not be exactly a hivemind, but they definitely work together and are the same person.
Only Mostly Dead: Heine gets shotgunned out of a window at one point, seems dead, then jerks back upright a moment later.
Orphanage of Fear: The kindergarten where all the people with Kerberos spines start out.
OVA: Dogs: Stray dogs howling in the dark animates the four short stories from the prequel manga. See the description above.
Parental Abandonment: Naoto's parents were murdered, Badou's parents are never mentioned, and if Heine (or anyone else with a Kerberos spine) has real parents, they're never brought up.
Heine and the other experiments DON'T have parents.
In chapter 69, Angelika Einstürzen makes a comment to Heine that he, Lily, Giovanni, and all the other kids in the Kerberos experiment were grown from her genes. This would make her their biological parent.
Papa Wolf: Badou, surprisingly. He goes way out of his way to defend and take care of Noki while underground with Heine and Giovanni, he has no reason to be protecting her, but because she is a child he is not willing to let any harm come to her.
Running Gag: After Carsellino had half his face bitten off by Heine within the first few chapters of the story, it's been a bit of a running gag that his luck is just the worst, as he's continually caught up in the main characters' antics, and he frequently plots and attempts (and fails) to get revenge on Heine.
Scars Are Forever: Badou has scars on both his right hand and right eye (underneath the eyepatch). These are implied to have something to do with his older brother, but little more than a very brief, bloody flashback has been shown so far to explain the wounds.
Ship Tease: Quite a bit between Heine and Naoto as the series progresses. These twolinks are some of the high points (spoiler warning).
And then there's THIS, though the context of the story casts it in more of a Black Widow light. Then there's the fact that the woman in the picture is possessed by his mother who currently inhabiting the remains of his SISTER.
You Killed My Father: Naoto, but with both her parents. Doubly subverted, as the man she originally believed to be her parents' killer got killed by Magato before she could do it, and then it turned out that man wasn't the one who did it after all. She's now looking for their true killer.
Subverted again when we learn they were not her parents